This book examines the issue of reform in forest management policy in India and Nepal, considering in detail three major Indian states (West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh) and two regions of Nepal (the mid-hills and the plains, or tarai). A central issue of reform on which much current policy debate revolves is the role of local people in forest management. Participatory forest management (PFM) – a label used to describe a range of policy reform measures related to this issue – is examined in detail in this book. The term is employed here as a focus of debate, and we use it to refer to any policy that claims to be participatory in whatever terms and that applies whatever criteria the user chooses. Thus, the authors make no prior claim to what constitutes ‘genuine’ participation, although the concluding chapters outline the purposes of participation in different contexts and the obstacles and facilitative forces that shape the policy outcomes of ‘participation’. It will quickly become apparent that many claims to ‘participation’ are made for many different reasons. Assessments of these claims have been made by numerous different actors, including policy-makers; activists; politicians; international funding agencies; forest users of all kinds, from landless tribal people to village elites; and functionaries of the forest administrations at different levels.